I don't think this is right anymore. The 2011 (and later?) Macbook Air keyboard may be replaceable by removing about 50 tiny screws. Will let you know next week :-) See this: MacBook Air 13" Mid 2011 Upper Case Replacement and this: https://www.l2order.com/ViewLarge.cfm?id...
UPDATE: it's not so simple. There are about 40 screws and 50 rivets. Your mileage may vary, but I was able to remove all of the tiny screws and then slowly pop out the old rivets (by prying up the old keyboard -- which more-or-less destroys it -- but it was broken anyway). I was then able to screw in the new keyboard and firmly press each rivet back in place, one at a time, with the tips of a small pliers. I can't be sure they will hold but they seem to have seated well, and my hope is that the back-light assembly would at least prevent a couple of stray rivets from causing any trouble. Will update if they pop out in the future or I have any issues.
Anyone have any insights on that?
(this content more-or-less cross posted from another thread here http://www.ifixit.com/Answers/View/97271...)
Update 2/14/2013: For what it's worth, the rivets have all held in place just fine for the past 5 months.
After reading all these comments, I've decided I can live without the use of the letter u and the number 7.
The risk of breaking something while dismantling things is too great. I already have an iMAC and the Macbook Air is more of a convenience 'toy' than anything else. It would be an expensive $1300 'toy' if I further ruined it by attempting this multi, multi-step guide.
I already bought and received the $59 tool kit today, but I'd kick myself if I broke something and ended up with a useless laptop.
So, thank you to all of you who submitted your comments.
Great website for those who DO feel confident in their abilities!!
Keyboard only is available online at ebay. From china (not recommended) and from New York.
As the guy above said it is not easy to do the repair. It requires removing everything. Logic board, battery, speakers. It will be the most difficult repair ever. After removing logic board and battery and you have not broken the speakers in half the keyboard is riveted in. Getting the rivets out requires a unique way of getting leverage. Think of a seesaw with the fulcrum in the center. Getting the rivets out you will have to use the sides of the case (which is aluminum of course and easily marred) and the black portion between the screen and case. Used an extra long possibly 8 to 10 inch flat head screw driver as the seesaw. The tip of the screw driver was filed down to have a sharper point. More specifically a flatter edge. No need to be knife sharp. Just smaller. To protect the edge of the case and the black portion, I used a metal putty knife to cover the area while i used it as a fulcrum. Careful while pulling up. At times I did not look carefully and almost started pulling up on the web of aluminum instead of the rivet itself. With careful pulling technique you will be able to get all the rivets out and then have empty holes. (This took me a repair or two to figure out correct pulling technique). A1278 keyboard screws will fit in the holes of the rivets.
For someone brave enough to literally rip out the Macbook Air keyboard I hope this helps someone.
Now to find out if the 2011 Macbook Air keyboard is compatible with the 2010 version. I halfway tested already with broken 2011 keyboard. Flex cable fits and computer turns on almost all keys work. Could not test all keys since the broken keyboard only half the keys worked. It appears all the screw holes are the same but I did not see the top portion of the keyboard.
2011 has two keyboard versions. Both will function on mid 2010 but with different mislabeled F keys. One you can switch the top portions of the keys and the second one from 2011 has different style keys and brackets which would not allow simply switching the keys.
When the keyboard and mouse suddenly stopped worked on my Macbook Air I impulsively took it to the Apple Genus Bar. Guess what they told me? The top-case needs to be replaced and that will cost $700.
So I searched ifixit.com for answers and found an excellent tutorial on how to replace the top-case. Mayer referenced the link above. In my case, pun intended, I replaced the trackpad, which ended up fixing both the keyboard and trackpad. I saved hundreds of dollars, and although it was an onerous process, the money saved made it worth it.